High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) - A Comprehensive Guide

what is hplc

HPLC is a technique used in analytical chemistry to separate, identify, and quantify individual components in a mixture. It is a type of liquid chromatography that uses high-pressure pumps to provide high resolution and sensitivity in the analysis of complex mixtures. HPLC is widely used in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food, and environmental analysis, due to its versatility and ability to provide accurate and precise results.

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Principles of HPLC

HPLC is based on the principle of liquid distribution between a stationary phase and a mobile phase. The mixture to be analyzed is injected into the system, and as the mobile phase, usually a solvent, flows through the column, the components of the mixture are separated based on their physical and chemical properties. The separation is achieved by the interaction between the components of the mixture and the stationary phase, with the most strongly interacting components being retained the longest and the least interacting components being eluted first.

The stationary phase in HPLC can be a solid material packed into the column or a liquid adsorbed onto a solid support. The choice of stationary phase and mobile phase is crucial for the separation and analysis of compounds, and the method can be adjusted to optimize the separation based on the specific requirements of the analysis.

Components of an HPLC System

An HPLC system typically consists of the following components:

  1. High-pressure pump: A high-pressure pump provides the necessary pressure to drive the mobile phase through the column.
  2. Column: The column is where the separation of the components of the mixture takes place. The choice of column, stationary phase, and mobile phase will depend on the specific requirements of the analysis.
  3. Injector: The injector is used to introduce the sample into the HPLC system. It is important to have precise and accurate sample injection to ensure consistent and reproducible results.
  4. Detector: The detector is used to detect the eluted components of the mixture. There are several types of detectors used in HPLC, including UV-visible spectrophotometers, fluorescence detectors, and mass spectrometers.

Applications of HPLC

HPLC is a highly versatile technique and is widely used in various industries for a range of applications. In the pharmaceutical industry, it is used for quality control, purity determination, and drug development. In the food industry, HPLC is used for the analysis of food additives, contaminants, and nutrients. In the environmental analysis, HPLC is used for the analysis of water and air samples.

Advantages of HPLC

HPLC offers several advantages over other analytical techniques, including:

  • High resolution and sensitivity: HPLC provides excellent separation and identification of individual components in a mixture, allowing for precise and accurate analysis.
  • Speed: HPLC can provide results in a matter of minutes, making it a fast and efficient analytical technique.
  • Versatility: HPLC can be used for a wide range of samples, from simple mixtures to complex biologic samples, and can be easily adjusted for specific analysis requirements.


HPLC is a powerful analytical technique that provides accurate, precise, and fast results for the separation, identification, and quantification of individual components in a mixture. Its versatility and high resolution make it a valuable tool in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food, and environmental analysis. Whether you are looking to perform routine quality control tests or to analyze complex samples, HPLC is a versatile and reliable analytical method that can help you get the results you need.

¿What kind of precautions we need to take during analysis?

  • Make sure the column washed before and after analysis.
  • Solvents must be filtered through a 0.5 μm nylon filter membrane and degassed.
  • The sample must be particle-free, therefore filtered through a 0.2 μm nylon filter membrane.
  • Buffers like phosphate buffers, acetate buffers, etc. are very harmful to the HPLC system and columns they need to be washed properly.
  • Don’t overload the column.
  • Use appropriate flow rates to maintain system pressure.
  • Do not run HPLC systems at high backpressure.
  • Always use grade solvents and water derived from reliable sources.
  • Use guard columns to protect against contamination and prolong column life.
  • Don’t use a mobile phase or buffers with a highly acidic or basic pH.

Glossary of HPLC

The listing should be helpful to those just starting in HPLC but it also can serve as a refresher for long-time users in the field.

Brief History of Liquid Chromatography






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